Madras Government Museum
EDITED BY THE S'JPERUTTEHDEHT
CATA OCUE OF THE
SOUTH INDIAN HINDU METAL IMAGES IN THE
MADRAS GOVERNMENT MUSEUM
F. H. GRAVELY, djc.
T. N. RAMACHANDRAN. M>.
S*unm*i DCam~n DTUj—
New Series— Central Section Vo I. /. Pi. 2
PRINTED BY THE S'Jj'EiO-NTENDE.NT, GOVaiLNMlNT J-BES*
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footnote 1 1
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... SrJ/iiuJsa ...
... Afdhini ... ...
... dchdryns ...
... sanyasis ...
... before the fail moon.
( before the new and
*** l full moons.
footnote 2 )
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footnote 3 1
line 2 J
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• • •
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vaist band ...
(= A.D. 1510)
(= A.D. 1511)
... Last line
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“ Elemen’s ...
CATALOGUE OF THE
SOUTH INDIAN HINDU METAL IMAGES IN THE
MADRAS GOVERNMENT MUSEUM
F. H. GRAVELY, d.sc.
T. N RAMACHANDRAN. m.a.
G+itf - mr at JVuhu m, S\CiiJro$
(PMhheJ- September 1932)
CONT E NTS.
Previous work on metal images from South India and Ceylon
Clothes and articles of adornment
Prof. Jouveau-Dubreuil’s conclusions ...
Evidence from the Madras Museum collection and from inscribed images elsewhere
Summary of conclusions
Hindu metal images from Polonnaruwa
Character and geographical distribution of treasure trove finds from South India
The Madras Museum collection — material and methods employed in cataloguing
Images specially associated with Brahma
Vaishnavite images —
Vishnu (various forms) .-
Sri Devj (Lakshmi) and Bhu Devi
The wives of Vasudeva
Incarnations of Vishnu and his consorts
Garuda ... ... ... ... ... ...
Hanutnan ... ... ... . ...
Alvars (Vaishnavite saints) ... ...
Acharvas (Vaishnavite teachers) ... ... ... ..
Emblems of Vishnu
Vishnu's feet and sandals
Saivite images —
Siva (various forms)
p " vali -
Devi (as Durga, Kali, etc.)
Subruhmanya ... ... ... ... ...
Nandi ... * *
Dvarapalaka and Dvarapalilca ...
Images not specially associated with Brahma, Vishnu or Siv
Manmatb.i and Rati
Semi-divine heroes (Ar juna)
Grama devatas (village deities), etc.
... n 6
... r 3 8
CATALOGUE OF THE SOUTH INDIAN HINDU METAL
IMAGES IN THE MADRAS GOVERNMENT MUSEUM.
By F. H. Gravei.y, d.sc., and T. N. Ramachandran, m.a.,
Government Museum, Madras.
The position occupied by the Madras Museum has enabled it to gather together
a particularly fine collection of South Indian metal images, mostly Hindu and mostly
acquired by Government from treasure trove finds. Some were thus acquired as long ago
as 1872, but most have been obtained during the last thirty years.
All such images, as has often been pointed out, are religious in purpose. With few
exceptions they are designed to remind worshippers of the Divine, conceived by Hindu
philosophy as the Impersonal Absolute and by Hindu bhakti (devotion) as the Ixjrd and
Divine Lover of believers. In the best images something of both these aspects finds
expression, often rendering them difficult of appreciation by those unfamiliar with Hindu
feelings. In addition to this, every image must conform to the pattern laid down for it by
tradition. These patterns are prescribed in such detail in the silpa-sastras or crafts-
men’s handbook — which is regarded as a sacred canon of divine origin — that doubts have
been expressed as to whether such rigid rules can leave any scope for the expression of
art that is really great in the sense of being universal ; and only half a century ago Hindu
images were generally regarded in the. West as having little or no artistic significance.
The general opinion is now, however, very different and in some quarters seems to have
swung to an almost equally uncritical extreme in the opposite direction. The answer
of the Madras Museum collection to this question of the artistic value of Hindu images,
can best, wc think, be indicated by drawing attention to the well known N'ataraja image
from Tiruvelangadu (Natesa No. 5, pi. xviii, fig. 2) and to Vishnu No. I (pi. i, fig. I),
Rama No. I (pi. vii), Hanuman No. I (pi. vi, fig. 2) and Narasimha No- 5 (Yoganara-
simha, pi. v) on the one hand as compared with Srinivasa (= Vishnu) No. 4 (pi- iv, fig. i),
Rama No. 2 (pi. viii, fig. 2). Hanuman No. 4 (pi. vi, fig. 3) and Narasimha No. 2 (pi. vi,
fig. I) on the other. But it must not be forgotten that to the Hindu worshipper the
latter four afford all that is required, and may even seem preferable to the former four by
reason of their sharper and more detailed finish, emphasizing traditional form with all
Hanuman No. 1 and Narasimha No. 5 provide an answer to another criticism that
has been levelled against Hindu art — that it cannot be really good because much of its
subject-matter is grotesque or even positively ugly. For they well illustrate the way in
which Hindu artists have succeeded in giving expression to true artistic feeling even
through such apparently unpromising traditional forms. Unfortunately our figures do
not do full justice to the originals.
Bulletin, Madras Government Museum-
[G.S. l, 2 ,
Hindu sculptors form a special caste, which has sometimes been likened to one of the
craftsmen’s guilds of mediaeval Europe ; and investigators have pointed out that the nearest
European parallels to the generalized type of facial expression characteristic of Indian
work are to be found among the imaginative stone figures carved by members of these
guilds for Gothic cathedrals. It was when Rodin was preparing a volume of essays on
the cathedrals of France that he was attracted to Indian art through the analogies he
noticed. To any in Europe who still find Indian art too remote for comprehension this
may suggest a possible mode of approach.
In the following account of the Hindu section of the Madras Museum collection of
South Indian metal images we have aimed at bringing to public notice the whole contents
of the collection rather than at exhaustive treatment of any of the specimens.' We hope
that the attention thus drawn to them will encourage qualified artists to treat others of the
finest examples as Rodin has already treated two of the Natarajas (see below, p. 4).
The catalogue was commenced by the late Mr. Srinivasa Raghava Ayyangar several
years ago- But pressure of other archaeological and numismatic work made progress
slow, and when he had later to devote his whole time to numismatics he handed over his
notes to the present authors, who are also indebted to his intimate knowledge of Vaishna-
vite tradition for help in identifying some of the images of Vaishnavite saints, both
alvars and acharyas, the iconography of which presents problems of special difficulty.
Wc arc also indebted to Pandit E. R. Krishnamachar of the Madras Government Oriental
Manuscripts Library for further help in this connection.
Diacritical marks have been inserted in all names or terms italicized in the summaries
of iconography, costume, etc,, but have been avoided elsewhere except in the case of a
few names which do not occur in these summaries.
Many of the images in the collection have long been in need of chemical restoration.
The post of archaeological chemist in the Museum was therefore established in 1930,
and filled by Mr. S. Paramasivan. Without his help many of the images described
below could not have been satisfactorily dealt with, their details being more or less
completely obscured by corrosion. This work, especially since the installation of the
apparatus for electrolytic treatment, has been invaluable to us.
We have also to thank Mr. R. F. Stoney, late of Madras Public Works Department, and
the executors of the late Mr. C. W. E. Cotton, LC.S., for permission to describe and
photograph certain images of special interest in their possession, and Prof. Jouveau-
Dubreuil and the authorities of the MusccGuimet in Paris for enabling us to describe and
figure Chandrasekhara No. I with its inscription.
* Present financial conditions hare unfortnnately compelled a* to redone toa minimum Use writs of plate, originally
planned, which are practically confined to »hat is needed to Illustrate the points discussed in the archaeological
lection of this introduction (pp. 20-47) nnd the analysis of treasure trove finds (pp. 47—61). We hone that il may be
possible at a later date to itrtee plates of other images, with mote special reference to iconography.
Hindu Metal linages.
PREVIOUS WORK ON METAL IMAGES FROM SOUTH INDIA AND CEYLON.
The earliest modem account of South Indian metal images appears to be that of
“Some Buddhist Bronzes, and Relics of Buddha” published by Robert Sewell in 1895,'
though a brief reference to the same find was made in a report submitted to Government
by the Collector of Bezwada in 1870 and published in the Indian Antiquary* more than
twenty years earlier. Not for another ten years, however, did the importance of South
Indian metal images begin to receive any kind of general recognition, a recognition that
came largely as a result of the work of Havcll* and Coomaraswaray. The latter author
published an illustrated paper on some “ Mahayana Buddhist Images from Ceylon and
Java" in 1909* and in 1910 his ‘‘Selected Examples of Indian Art ”, among which are
included several metal images from Ceylon and South India. In 1910 there also appeared
Arunachalam’s “ Ancient Bronzes in the Colombo Museum
Vincent Smith’s “History of Fine Art in India and Ceylon”, first published in 1911
and extensively revised by Codrington in 1930, which has done much to show the relation
of Indian art to Indian history, devotes several pages to metal images from South India
and Ceylon. Such images are dealt with from another point of view inCoomaraswamy’s
“Arts and Crafts of India and Ceylon" published in 1913 in the World of Art scries.
And drawings of several images belonging to the Madras Museum Collection are in-
cluded among the “Illustrations of Metal Works in Brass and Copper, mostly South
Indian” by Thurston, Velayuda Asari and Hadaway, printed in 1913 at the Madras
Government Press, “ not for sale
In 1914 the Colombo Museum published in its Memoirs Coomaraswamy’s “ Bronzes
from Ceylon, chiefly in the Colombo Museum ”, the only extensive work devoted
exclusively to Ceylon metal images. The same author’s “ Visvakarma ”, published in the
same year, contains illustrations of metal images from both India and Ceylon. In the'
following year (1915) the Indian Society of Oriental Art published O. C.Gangoly's “South
Indian Bronzes”, the fullest treatment of the subject that has yet appeared. In 1916
H. Krishna Sastri's “South Indian Images of Gods and Goddesses" was published at
the Madras Government Press.
The existence of South Indian portrait statues in metal first became generally known
in 1915, when several were figured in Ganguly’s “South Indian Bronzes” and H. Krishna
Sastri described and figured some from a temple in Tirupati*. Special attention has
* J • AiMtc Set., 1895, pp. 617-63/. s pt.
• Vol. 1, 187a, p. 133.
• e " Indian Sculpture and Painting” fipoti, with a retried and largely rewritten edition In !9tS) and •• The
Ideils of Indian Art" (191 «). In the latter the Tirovelangadu KnUraja wm figured fur the fin* lime.
• J. Roy. Asiatic Sec., 1009, pp. *»3-*97. 3 P 1 -
• Syetis Zeyienica, VI, pp. J7-74. >5 P>.. 6
• Asm. R*p., 191 «-i*. Arti. S*n>. /nd., p. 189, pi. laavl.
Bulletin, Madras Government Museum.
[G£. I, 2 ,
recently been paid to them by T. G. Aravamuthan in his “ South Indian Portraits in Stone
and Metal ” 1 and " Portrait Sculpture in South India
Rodin's memoir on “ La Danse de Civa " with twelve magnificent illustrations of
two metal images from the Madras Museum (Natcsa Nos. 3 and 5 ) appeared in Ars Asiatica
in 1921 and is much the most detailed study of any South Indian images that has yet
In 1922 Coomaraswamy published a short account of some Saivitc images, including a
number of metal ones from South India that had been acquired by the Boston Museum
of Fine Arts*; and in 1923 he published his “Catalogue of the Indian Collections in the
Museum of Fine Arts. Boston ” and his M Portfolio of Indian Art ", in both of which South
Indian metal images find a place. Mention may also be made here of his “ Bibliographies
of Indian Art” which appeared in 1925. His “History of Indian and Indonesian Art”.
Iiubli&hed in 1927 contains only a very brief reference to South Indian metal images, with
a few illustrations, and adds nothing new concerning them.
A paper on ‘ Indian Bronzes" by K. N. Sitaram appeared in the Connissenr for June
1024*, in which a number of images arc figured, chiefly from the Victoria and Albert, and
Leyden Museums 1 .
" Southern Indian Bronzes " form the subject of Vo!. I of O. C Gangoly’s Little Books
on Asiatic Art. This book which was published in 1927 . provides a useful and well illus-
trated brief introduction to the subject. It must not be confused with his earlier and
much more extensive treatise “South Indian Brunzes" to which reference has already
been marie. Several noteworthy papers on South Indian metal images have been
attributed to Bnpam, his “illustrated quarterly journal of oriental art, chiefly Indian —
1921. A Statuette of a Saiva Devotee, by the Editor.
1922 . Notes on the Composition of Line in Nataraja Images, by W. S. Hadaway.
Note on a dated Nataraja from Belur, by W. S. Hadaway.
1924. Notes on two Jaina Metal Images, by W. S. Hadaway.
• Lane * Cn., L«0'U.a, 193 ».
• India Society, l-oodon. 1931.
• Bmli. Jfnr. /.<•* Am, Hut n XX, pp. « 5 — *♦> 10
• J*»g«s 05-71, lB Kit lie* 3 pi. We Me indebted to Mr. Codringtoa for cnlling our attention to this paper.
• TV t.iokca lot from tbe Victoria aryl Albert Mar com ibown in Sitaram's tut plate ax “ Sira (?)
An lent iV.at* wont* f.gjr: " it of special interest on accottnt of its apparent antiquity. Nothing it said in the
leU as to the reasons for the ■ declination and period given. Hiving only a Bugle pair of arms, and a lotus but
Ba oa of 5 i*a‘» tpeciai eat emi .c the hair. Chaodikesvsta seems tu us a more probable identification, and this
,«<*.,*» cnafisutioc from the faa that the left hand Is 1 st the Icataka pone as If to hold something in exact!/ the
puatxa ed the axe of Lhsndiket.ara No. t uf the Madras Mosentn eu. lection. The right arm Is unfortunately broken
ori atom tbs eitow. If. however, our identification is correct, the Image is unlikely tote s Pal lava one. Nor,
tVngh Cheotihesrara is the one Snivite saint of whom Psllara me. get are known, in these images h» always stand*
idut £ivi with heads in an/alt pone and holding neither ate nor flowet*. independent images with axe or Sowers
fearing • , pMvullj cook into use only In Chois time*.